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AGO 1950 No. 233 - March 03, 1950
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

WASHINGTON STATE REFORMATORY -- DUTY OF ACCEPTING PRISONERS

The Washington State Reformatory is justified in receiving a prisoner if copies of the judgment and sentence are delivered to the institution without the delivery of any "warrant of commitment."

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                                                                   March 3, 1950

Honorable H. D. Van Eaton
Department of Public Institutions
Social Security Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 49-51 No. 233

Attention:  Mr. Van R. Hinkle, Supervisor

Dear Sir:

            On February 24, 1950, we received a letter from Mr. Edward H. McKee, Identification Officer at Washington State Reformatory.  He propounds a question as to the right of the Washington State Reformatory to receive a prisoner in the absence of a "warrant of commitment" but where "judgment and sentence" papers are delivered to the institution.  He asks if, under such circumstances, the receipt of the prisoner is valid and legal.

            The conclusions reached may be summarized as follows:

            The Washington State Reformatory is justified in receiving a prisoner if copies of the judgment and sentence are delivered to the institution without the delivery of any "warrant of commitment."

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The recent case ofIn Re Whipple v. Smith, 133 Wash. Dec. No. 10, page 594, [[33 Wn.2d 615]]would seem decisive.  We quote:

            "The appellant's contention that his incarceration is illegal for want of a warrant of commitment, is without merit.  Rem. Rev. Stat., § 2207 (P.P. C. 134-33), provides as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "When any person shall be sentenced to be imprisoned in the penitentiary or county jail, the clerk of the court shall, as soon as may be, make out and deliver to the sheriff of the county, or his deputy, a transcript, from the minutes of the court, of such conviction and sentence, fully certified by such clerk, which shall be sufficient authority for such sheriff to execute the sentence, who shall execute it accordingly.'

            "There is no other statute touching anything that might be called a 'warrant of commitment.'  This statute is clear upon its face, and in addition it has been interpreted inState v. Hatfield, 66 Wash. 9, 118 Pac. 893, 38 L.R.A. (N.S.) 609, against appellant's contention.  Appellant is being held by the warden of the penitentiary by virtue of a valid judgment and sentence of the superior court,and there is no reason why the warden should have in his possession a 'warrant of commitment,' which is merely the sheriff's authority to transfer the prisoner from the county of sentence to the penitentiary.  * * *" (Emphasis supplied)

            It is, therefore, our opinion that the Washington State Reformatory is justified in receiving a prisoner if copies of the judgment and sentence are delivered to the institution without the delivery of any "warrant of commitment."

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

GEORGE DOWNER
Assistant Attorney General

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